Third Edition of the Five Southern Dramas


This work contains five southern dramas: Huan sha ji (The tale of washing silk), Jin yin ji (The tale of the golden seal), Xiang nang ji (The tale of the purple sachet), Xiu ru ji (The story of the embroidered coat), and Feng ming ji (The tale of the crying phoenix). The Tale of Washing Silk, also called Wu Yue chun qiu (Annals of the states of Wu and Yue), in two juan, was written by Ming dramatist Liang Chenyu (circa 1519−circa 1591). Liang, courtesy name Bolong, style names Shaobai and Chouchi Waishi, was a native of Kunshan, Jiangsu. The play has 45 scenes. The story originated from Wu Yue shi jia (The Wu and Yue families) in Shi ji (Records of the grand historian) and Wu Yue chun qiu, written by Zhao Ye, and concerns the warring states Wu and Yue of the Spring and Autumn Period. The Tale of the Golden Seal, in two juan, was written by Su Fuzhi, an early Ming playwright, on whom information is unavailable. He was probably active during reign of the Chenghua Emperor, Xianzong (1465−87). The play has 38 scenes and tells the story of Su Qin of the Warring States Period (476−220 BC). The Tale of the Purple Sachet, in two juan, was the work of Shao Can, courtesy names Wenming and Hongzhi, style name Banjiang, a native of Yixing (in present-day Jiangsu), who lived around the Chenghua and Hongzhi reigns (1465−1505). The work has 42 scenes. It tells the story of the misappropriated purple sachet belonging to Zhang Jiucheng of the Song dynasty. The Story of the Embroidered Coat, in two juan, was written by Xue Jingun, whose courtesy name was Baichang. He was a native of Wujin, Jiangsu. The dates of his birth and death are unknown. The play is a love story in 41 scenes. The Tale of the Crying Phoenix, in two juan, was written by Ming literary scholar and historian Wang Shizhen (1526−90), courtesy name Yuanmei, style names Fengzhou and Yanzhou Shanren, a native of Taichang, Jiangsu. The play has 41 scenes and centers on the conflict between court officials led by Xi Yan (1482−1548) and Yang Jisheng (1516−55) and the crafty minister Yan Song and his son. In its concern with current events, the play breaks the pattern of chuan qi (southern drama), where the leading hero and heroine were the usual focus. This copy in the collection of the National Central Library has a summary commentary, table of contents and illustrations at the beginning of each juan. In addition, Jin yin ji, Xiu ru ji, and Feng ming ji also bear the inscription on the last page, beyond the left-side frame, in ink, which reads: Changle Zheng Zhenduo cang shu (Books of the Library of Zheng Zhenduo of Changle). There is also a handwritten inscription, in red, on the cover of Xiu ru ji, written by Renqiu Jushi (Zheng Zhenduo’s pen name), claiming that the copy was a late-Ming printed edition. The commentaries in the work were attributed to Li Zhuowu (1527−1602), but they were in fact written by Ye Zhou, a Ming commentator of fiction and drama from Wuxi.

Last updated: June 25, 2015